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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  CAS TOPICS  |  The Darksider's Den  |  The Dark Arts (Moderator: Lucky Irish Tom)  |  Topic: Any suggestions on making combustible cartidges? 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Any suggestions on making combustible cartidges?  (Read 42039 times)
River City John
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« on: May 29, 2006, 06:45:16 pm »


I have made consumable cartidges in the past using materials that came with the kit from DGW for making .54 cal. Sharps cartridges. The paper in that kit was too thick and would leave a sleeve of charred paper in the cylinders that gummed them up after three wheel fulls.

Someone suggested cigarette rolling papers. But aren't most coated with a chemical that makes them burn slower nowadays?
Anyone have experience using cigarette papers?

Would the most common brand, such as Bugler, be the best to use? There sure seemed to be a lot of brands when I stopped by the smokeshop. Most touted as treated to burn slow. I was toying with getting some of that treated paper magicians use that flames to ash almost instantly, but figured it would be too expensive.

Forming a tube and glueing the mouth to a ball with Uhu or similar glue I have information on.


Thanks,
RCJ
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« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2006, 09:17:11 pm »

RCJ:

Did quite a bit of this back in my days of strictly black powder shooting.  You can make your own nitrated paper - get a supply of potassium nitrate (KNO3) or sodium nitrate (NaNO3) - both otherwise known as saltpetre - from a chemical supply house or school chem lab supplies deale.  Make a "superaturated solution" in water - in other words dissolve the stuff until it won't take up any more.  Immerse sheet of paper in the solution(cake pan or photograph develper tray or some such) until thouroughly saturated, remove the sheet and let excess solution drip back into tray, then dry.  I found that a common household iron on low-medium heat setting hastened that process (and also gives you a much smoother and easier-to-work-with finished product.  I used to use good quality tissue paper or "onion skin" typing paper - amazingly tough stuff for its weight.  Heavier paper, like regular copier or printer paper, won't work very well ....

I've been told on other threads on this topic, elsewhere, that KNO3 can be a bit pricey these days.  Can't comment on cost, since the supply I used way back then was given to me by a high school chem teacher of my acquaintance.  However, I can confirm that a little goes a long way.  I was given a 500ml bottle which still had only about 1/3 of its contents - matter of fact, I made my supersaturated solution by just filling the bottle with water - what won't dissolve just stays in the boittom!  I still have most of it left - you pour the solution remaining in the soaking tray back into your bottle of course.  If it dries out, "just add water"  ... Grin
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« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2006, 11:47:46 pm »

PAPER I HAVE BEEN USING FOR YEARS IS SILKSPAN. ITS A LINEN COVERING USED ON MODEL AIRCRAFT. IT COMES IN THREE GRADES. LIGHT, MEDIUM, AND HEAVY. I USE MEDIUM FOR MY COLT COMBUSTABLE CARTRIDGES AND SHARPS CARTRIDGES. SOAK IN SALTPETER LET DRY. HAVE USED THIS FOR OVER 5 YEARS WORK FINE AND MAKE .36 .44. AND 52 SHARPS. MAKE MY SHARPS CARTRIDGES WITH FLAT BOTTOM. NEVER CARED FOR CUTTING OF BASE OF CARTRIDGE WITH THE KNIFE EDGE OF BLOCK. MINE, THE CAP BURNES RIGHT THREW THE PAPER BASE AND YOU CAN UNLOAD THEM IF YOU HAVE TO WITH OUT A MESS. ALITTLE RESADUE LIFT BUT NOT ENOUGHT TO WORRY ABOUT. USE REGULAR MUSKET CAPS ON SHARPS  AND STANDARD PISTOL CAPS ON PISTOLS. MAKE PISTOL CARTRIDGES WITH A TAPER SHAPE. GO IN MUCH EASIER. HAVE ALSO BEEN USING A CHEMICIAL CALLED "WATERGLASS" TO GLUE CARTRIDGE TOGETHER AND GLUE BULLET OR BALL TO CARTRIDGE.HAVE LOADED NEARLY 1000 COMBUSTABLE CARTRIDGES OVER LAST 5 YEARS. NEVER HAD A PROBLEM WITH ANY HOT PAPER IN CHAMBER OR CYCLINDER THAT COULD CAUSE A EXSPLOSION WHEN NEXT CARTRIDGE INSERTED. IF ANY ONE NEED ANY MORE INFO PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME HERE. GOTZGUNS
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« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2006, 12:06:36 am »

Potassium Nitrate (KnO3) is available at any hardware store as "Stump remover".  I once bought a 25 pound sack of it from a feed store years ago for that purpose, unrefined but dirt cheap.  Might be still available that way; drugstores may still sell it also.  Or just dissolve a bit of black powder, the sulfur and charcoal are insoluble in water and should filter out.  Good shootin'

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« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2006, 02:34:47 am »

I have had quite good success with cigarette papers for making quick powder cartridges for my Remmies and 1860 copies.
I got for the better brands, Zig Zag, etc. I roll the paper around a dowel, lick the gummed edge and stick it down to form a tube, twist close one end, pour in powder, shake to settle and then twist close the other. You then have a ready made measure of powder, and can store them in an ammo box or the like until the match. No spilling when reloading a C&B revolver.
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« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2006, 10:09:21 am »

Thanks all for your responses. I'll check in again.

I will get down to experimenting. I am looking to package 5 rounds in ready-to-go packets with repro labels to take to matches. I am shooting .36 cal., both a Remington and a Colt '51 clone. It would cut down my loading time tremendously to just be able to ram a prepared combustible cartridge in.

I noticed no one mentioned any problems with paper sleeve buildup inside the chambers. Being the eternal optimist I will assume that cigarette papers are less prone to do that.
Is it the common practice to pierce the end of the cartridge through the nipple with your nipple pick, or does the cap usually have enough power to consistently burn through the paper?

I have silkspan left over from my model airplane days.(I probably should consider it a collectible by now, it's some 40+years old.) I will see how successful I am in finding the potassium nitrate to soak it. It seems to me that the cigarette papers are thinner than the silkspan weight that I have. Perhaps, though, after properly nitrated they will burn up equally well.


RCJ
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« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2006, 01:08:06 pm »

With cigarette papers, I dont even bother nitrating them. They are made to burn easy anyhow and dont leave much paper in the chambers, if any. Anything that is left in the chamber, i give a quick blow into the chamber and its gone. I dont even bother piercing with a nipple pick either.
I will get some pics together of the method and post it later.
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« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2006, 06:34:48 pm »

Ran across this very nice basic tutorial. Hope the link works.

www.civilwarguns.com/9508.html
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« Reply #8 on: May 31, 2006, 08:52:44 am »

By far,  The best article on making paper cartridges is here:

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=144094

It got me started making them in the first place.  Here are some pics of the cartridges that I have made. As already suggested,  I use Zig-Zag papers and form them by wrapping the paper around a wooden dowel rod.

Hope this helps!

John


* cartridges1.jpg (37.12 KB, 700x214 - viewed 1109 times.)

* cartridges7.jpg (59.21 KB, 700x350 - viewed 1293 times.)
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« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2006, 06:14:48 pm »

I own and shoot a Shiloh .50 Cal Percussion Sharps that I fire combustable cartridges out of.

I make mine out of an old white bed sheet.  I cut the desired amount of cloth to size and soak it in a super saturated solution of BOILING WATER and Potassium Nitrate.  Once the Ptassium Nitrate begins to reform into crystal particulate I pull the sheet from the container and hang in the bathroom to dry.  Once dry I then store the sheets in a US GI ammo can that's air and water tight.

When I want to make some cartridges for the Sharps, I cut the sheet to size, roll it on a mandrel and glue the ends with either a Elmer's Glue Stick or model airplane glue and add powder and conical slug. 

I also use a piece of glass cleaning tissue stuck on the end of the mandrel so it forms a flat ended cylinder as the sheet is glued to it and the ends are glued together.  This allows me to stuff the whole cartridge in the chamber and NOT have to cut off a tail to expose the powder to the Percussion cap flame.  The fire bursts right through the tissue and ignites the BP.  I sometimes use a small Lee dipper, Less than 0.9 cc's to put a priming charge of FFFFg in the cartridge prior to putting the main charge of FFg and the bullet.

There is nothing left when the Sharps is fired.
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« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2006, 06:30:26 pm »

Obviously everyone is making paper combustible cartridges, to be on the cutting edge of historic redevelopment a different approach is in order. Luckily there are two non-paper alternatives for combustible cartridges. From A History of the Colt Revolver by Haven & Belden, page 110:
 
Quote
The paper cartridges used with Colt revolvers were developed during the middle to late 1850s. At first made of metal foil, they were improved until they consisted of a bullet, to the base of which was attached a charge of powder contained in an envelope made either of Goldbeater's skin or of paper impregnated with saltpeter so that it would be consumed by the fire of the discharge.
Some of the English skin cartridges, and the early American foil cartridges, were contained in another wrapper of heavy paper, which was torn off to load the cartridges into the revolver.
The latest American way of putting them up was in boxes containing the right number for one load of the cylinder of the model that the cartridges were made for.
These boxes were a block of wood bored with holes for the cartridges, wrapped in paper and varnished to keep out moisture. A string or wire running around the outside of the block but inside the paper was pulled to tear the paper and open the box.
Some of the cartridges were put up in cardboard boxes with all the cartridges together in one compartment, but this system was not as good as the wood block boxes because the cartridges were apt to be damaged by striking together in the box while they were being carried.
Colt, in conjunction with Colonel Hazard, who made Hazard's Powder, made cartridges at the Colt Cartridge Works, which was a part of the Colt factory, but some distance from the other buildings for safety. They were also put up by a number of other makers, among them Eley of London, D.C. Sage of Middletown, Connecticut and Robert Chadwick of Hartford, Connecticut.

Now if you go the easy route with the foil cartridges remember that Reynolds Wraptm is probably too heavy to be consumed during ignition, but more importantly, aluminum foil wasn't available until about 1910.  Tin foil was, and is, available and probably less expensive than what I found, but a google for tinfoil found this site for laboratory grade tin foil...at $75.00 square ft you'll want to aim carefully  Cool   Dr J (author of the Antique Cartridge articles that appeared in The Shootist & Shoot! Magazine a few years ago) stopped by today and we decided that, for those more economically minded, the thin foil that Hershey's Kisses are wrapped in would be both thin enough and about the correct size for cartridges.

But to really stand out in the crowd, skin cartridges are the only way to go. While I had photographed some of these for the Sept/Oct Shoot! Magazine article I didn't know exactly what kind of 'skin' they were made of until doing a little research of what 'Goldbeaters skin' mentioned in the above quote really was. It is the tough outer membrane of beef large intestines that gets its name from the fact that it's used to separate layers of gold when it's being beaten flat to make goldleaf. Other uses include such things as restoring parchment manuscripts, the moisture-sensitive element in hygrometers and in making clarinet reeds. I didn't find any domestic source for 'goldbeaters skin' but did find it available in Great Britain at a price not much more appealing than the tin foil, roughly $48.50 plus shipping from GB for (4) sheets approx 2 ft. X 1 ft.

Of course the true aficionado of the skin combustible cartridge will want to make their own goldbeaters skin  Roll Eyes.  Not to worry, here are instructions starting with a 5 gallon bucket of guts...you can't get more period correct than that Shocked .  It's your choice, either the convenience store clerk or the butcher is going to think you're up to something  Grin.
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« Reply #11 on: May 31, 2006, 06:51:11 pm »

A while back someone wrote a very detailed post, complete with pictures, on his combustible cartridges.

Forget the AKA.  Sergeant something or other.  Anyone remembers 'n has a e-mule address, maybe he'd repost it if we asked real nice.
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« Reply #12 on: June 01, 2006, 12:01:27 pm »

i use medium grade silkspan soaked in saltpeter and glued with "waterglass". i fold the silkspan over the mandrel to make a flat base. i have used this for years in my 54 carbine and rifle. never had any trouble with misfires. cap always burns threw cartridge. shoot 55 to 60 grains b.p. with standard musket cap. i glue bullet to cartridge. nice thing about the flat base is that you can unload with a slight tap of the weapon on ground and cartridge pops out, with no mess. after i assemble the cartridge i dip bullet into liquid grease and let dry. lubs ball and cartridge going in and keeps barrel flowing soft. gotzguns
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« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2006, 11:41:34 pm »

Dixie Gunworks has a nice tutorial book for $4 on how to do this.
http://www.dixiegunworks.com/product_info.php?products_id=1759

I won't spoil any secrets, but, it alot like how Sgt. John Chapman does it. Wink

for combustable cartridges, I use a solution of distilled water and KNO3 and soak thin TRACING PAPER in it for 30 min.

[I cut the 8.5"x11" paper in half so its easier to work with]

I pull out the paper and let it air dry on a wire screen outside. (in 90 F weather, it don't take long)

I do a whole book of papers like this and then store them in a gallon size zip-lock type bag. Works like a charm.

Then, I just wrap it around a dowel that has been sanded into a taper.

Lee 200gr 45cal conicals work best and load easily in a 58rem, but, are a pain to get working in a colt.
So, for colts, I just use a round ball with it instead.

I use 27gr of FFFg GOEX in the "cartridges" and store them in a plastic 45acp box if I am going to the range. For "show and tell", I use a pair of 6-shot boxes gussied up like what Sgt. Chapman did. (he told me how he did it a while ago)



[The photo above is one that the Sgt. did, I simply copied it... I couldn't find his tutorial online anywhere, so I am hosting this image instead]
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« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2006, 11:24:00 pm »

All,

Just to add what I already posted, I have been playing with different types of paper for making paper cartridges.

Although cigarette paper is the defacto standard for most, the size of it and its cost makes it difficult to work with at times.
(plus, the ugly stare you get from other customers at the gas station when you by 10 packs of it at a time)

MEAD tracing paper is 1/2 the weight of 24lb inkjet paper. (I measured this with my digital scale... 85.6gr vs. 42.1gr per 8.5x11 sheet)

It burns 4x faster and ALOT cleaner than plain cigarette paper and about even with nitrated cigarette paper.

Its also easier to work with as far as gluing and such.
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« Reply #15 on: October 18, 2006, 03:12:41 pm »

Is this what you all were looking for?............



'Making Useable Combustible Paper Cartridges'
     44 Cal Combustible Cartridges
Compliments of Sgt John Chapman


Some of this is to your preference, so I will tell you what I did and you can take it from there.
For the 44cal cartridges I use Bugler cigarette papers they measure roughly 1 1/2" x 2 3/4" . A piece of a 7/16" dowel stick long enough to handle, (at least 6"),  Saltpetre, an Elmer's glue stick, and scissors. Optional things Dehydrator with sheet plastic for fruit roll-ups.
(For 36 cal. I use a 3/8" dowel and for 31 cal. I use a 5/16 dowel)
Against the steel rule you can see the approximate length of the dowels(mine are too short) and the taper this is the part where you need to find your own preference. You want the taper to allow you a good angle to load and to create a "paper cup" just big enough to hold your powder charge and hold it tight, a lose powder bag will rip easier than a tight one.
Keep in mind here you may have to revamp the shape of the dowel after a few tries so it will work better......I think I went through 4 or so...........

Stuff Used

 
 
 
OK, her we go, break out about twelve papers, mix up a solution of Saltpetre and water, about 1 cup of water and two teaspoons of the Saltpetre, and lay the papers flat in the solution so they wont bunch up. This will be the toughest part of this whole thing. After about an hour very carefully, with a set of tweezers or something of that order, pull the papers out one at a time and place them on the Fruit Roll-up sheet in the dehydrator or on a sheet of wax paper and let them dry. Sounds simple enough but don't cuss me when you try it. Dry time in the Dehydrator is about 15 - 20 minutes on the wax paper I guess it depends on the day. I do a whole book of papers just to get it out of the way and put them in a Ziploc bag, you will ruin some papers but keep them you will need them later. Don't do any more than 12 at a time it's too much to handle.
 
After you get all the papers done you might need to smooth some of them out a little, I used the steel rule in the picture and drug it lightly across the top of the paper and against a hard smooth surface like the kitchen counter tops, again you will see what you can get away with, just go easy.  I then cut my papers to 1 1/2" x a sliver over 1", again yours may be different due to a smaller powder charge or whatever. What you want to wind up with is about 1/16th " fold over on the base of the "cut" we are making. We now take the papers that were cut and carefully wrap them around the dowel and glue the seam with the glue stick, with it tapered the bottom will overlap a little extra don't worry that's fine . Once that's done out of the extra paper left over or out of  the ruined papers cut a 3/8 x 3/8" square  and glue it to the bottom of the cup.   Hopefully this drawing will help a little?
                                                              
 Fold over.....

 
Cutting the Paper.......

      
I cut a lot of these squares at one time. What this does is form a cup which will hold the powder but is thin enough to let the cap blow through this is the secret to the whole thing, most "Paper Cartridges" made are twisted at the end or all folded up and even if you use a pick the cap cannot flame past it all. This method cures that.
Make a handful of the cups and then move on, later when you have figured out the correct "cup" you can mass produce them . I have about 1000 cups extra and the slugs and periodically when I need them I powder them and put them together.
Any way, make your powder charges, I do this one at a time to prevent mishaps, and I throw 30 gn 3F Black from my flask into the cup and tap it down . I then take a slug made with Lee Precisions 200gn Conical, cap and ball mould put glue around the base and put it in the top of the cup. This sounds a little difficult but go slow the glue softens the paper a little and it usually slips right over with a slight twisting motion, at this point square the bullet out and let them dry over night. you can also substitute round balls at this point but grease over them after loading.
 
  http://www.midwayusa.com/rewriteaproduct/285116  
  
  This is the Bullet mould.
 
Last of all, I took the Bees Wax/Crisco mix we use with BP and wiped it into the exposed grease groove working towards the nose as not to get any on the paper.
Now your ready to shoot, it's my understanding that enough contact is made on the sides of this slug that you don't have to put lube over the top like balls.
 
 
When loading these animals will be a little snug getting them under the ram sometimes , if you push firmly, straight down they will pop down a little more and have more room  if you need it, with round balls you wont have this problem.
 
Regards,
 
 Sgt John Chapman
 
If I left anything out or seemed to have, or you have any questions,  give me a holler...............   rsmuphoff@roadrunner.com
 
 
 
 
My Reproductions, Boxes and All,............



 
This is the most that's ever left in the Cylinder,...........


 
A Pile of Rounds,........

 
 
The Originals,..........'

 
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« Reply #16 on: October 18, 2006, 03:25:01 pm »

I'll have to give the tracing paper thing a try DW,...Thanks,.......
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« Reply #17 on: October 18, 2006, 10:39:48 pm »

This thread just keeps on giving. Cheesy

Thanks all.
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« Reply #18 on: November 04, 2006, 03:28:51 pm »

I'd be very interested in finding out how to make the boxes and labels.  I'm sure I can figure out how to pattern the basic box, but I have NO skill using Photoshop (or whatever) for making a label pattern to print.  If anyone can fill me in on their succesfull details regarding the box, like the thread/string, size, etc. and dimensions and perhaps can send me an e-mule with a label pattern, I'd be very grateful.

Thanks  --  Jeff  "Steel Horse Bailey"
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« Reply #19 on: November 04, 2006, 05:28:37 pm »

Steel Horse,............Label info is headed your way,........the box is 3"w x 1 5/8"H x 3/4"D,........I just knot both ends of a string so it's 2"long and poke an end in the box, it's just for looks.
I cut the boxes open so I can use them again........
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dpote
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« Reply #20 on: December 02, 2006, 03:51:39 pm »

Hi all. I just got back from a match.
I used paper cartridges for the first time in both the 1858 Remington and the Ruger Old Army.
Quick loading, but I didn't remember to clear the chambers of residue.
I had a few that didn't go off.
Remember to clear out the chambers when using paper cartridges.

Dave

EDIT -- I forgot to post blowing in the chambers is enough to get the loose paper bits out of the cylinder.
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Dick Dastardly
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« Reply #21 on: December 02, 2006, 04:05:50 pm »

Ho Dave,

What works best for clearing out those chambers?  I'd have to assume that high pressure compressed air would do the trick, but that's not readily available.  So, how do you clear 'em?

DD-DLoS
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« Reply #22 on: December 02, 2006, 06:29:46 pm »

are you cartridges combustable? been shooting combustable carts. made from silk-span for over 8 years and never had to clear cyclinders. have got over 24 shots with out clearing. are you carts. tapered ? also what brand caps do you use? interested to find out, gotzguns
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dpote
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« Reply #23 on: December 02, 2006, 07:17:27 pm »

The cartridges are tapered, and the paper is combustable.
I roll cigarette papers around a .30-30 case and twist the end. Pour in powder, ball and twist closed. Super easy to make.
Caps are Remington #11 and CCI #11 Magnum.
I didn't have any problems until the last stage. I'll probably continue to use them, as I was happy with their overall performance.
Now, I just gotta get chicken feathers coming out my barrels like the other thread in this forum. I think my friends will get a laugh out of the feather light loads.

Dave

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« Reply #24 on: December 02, 2006, 07:31:11 pm »

If you soak the paper in a solution of potassium nitrate you will find there is no residue. I used to lay the papers on a sheet of glass and put the solution on with a small paint brush. When dry they can be CAREFULLY peeled off the glass.
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